I made this list of what I’ll miss the most for our going-away bash last week at Kirk Avenue Music Hall. What a great send-off it was!

The smell of newsprint when you walk into the doors of 201 West Campbell Avenue.

The way Ezera Wertz asked me, along about three Christmases ago, if I would write his obituary when he died. In exchange for a quart of lima beans, of course.

The trails on Mill Mountain, especially the car trail. Especially the Monument and Star trails. Hell, all the trails.

The always-open pantry of Karen Branch, best neighbor in the world.

Getting paid to know so many kinds of people, from short-order cooks to judges to Cookie, the hairdresser who makes housecalls.

Listening to Old Gabriel, the Norfolk-Southern work whistle — so hopeful and yet so dissonant, as if it’s trying to tell you something. . . like to get up and go to work.

Story ideas from Ed, from way back in his folk-art-selling days, and pep talks from Katherine, who – if you ever find yourself about to interview for a fellowship at Harvard — gives the world’s best advice.

Getting to tell my version of other people’s truths — and knowing that I couldn’t have done it without the trust of people like Linda Rhodes, and Ellen Moore and Martha  Anderson and Vivian Sanchez-Jones.

Knowing that if I get into a child-care jam, I can call Chris or Bill, or Angela, or Sarah or Ian and Kathy. Chris Henson’s inimitable 5-minute-long voicemail messages.

Uncle Frosty’s pool. Aunt Barbara’s generosity. Nana’s pies. Aunt Sue’s ability to jump in there and stay with our kids for an entire week.

Jane Vance’s gin-and-tonics and her 26 cats, especially Rare Rare the Cat With Gray Hair. Mountain-bike rides with Jenna, who slows down so I can keep up.

Sweet and sour soup from Mary when I get sick.

Journalism therapy from Mary when someone hurts my feelings or I get stuck on a story.

Also from Frosty.

Also from Carole, the best and toughest editor of them all – and without whose trust and guidance; without her really getting me and what I’m good at — we would not be going on this adventure at all.

I’ll miss everybody. Especially the planners of our going-away fiesta — Mary and Dan and Frances and Chris and Connie and Frosty, and Katherine and Ed — thanks for always being on our team.

And a huuuuge thanks to my family — Max and Will — for their willingness to rearrange their lives around mine without getting too mad. (Max, you can write a memoir in a few years and get your revenge.)

And the biggest thanks of all to Tom, who for 20 years now has held my hand through all manner of nervousness and seems to love me even when I yell because he didn’t put the packing tape back in the drawer where it belongs. Or the scissors.

He bought me a Valentine’s Day card once with a quote by Jackson Browne with a quote that seems fitting as I toast all my Roanoke pals and the myriad ways you all have had my back: “Life is slippery. Here, take my hand.”

Thank you for celebrating with us. We’ll miss you a ton. And we’ll be back before you know it.

Leave a comment

4 Comments

  1. Claire

     /  August 19, 2009

    LOVED THIS ONE. The Ezra Wertz line gave me goosebumps. You added so much to our community. Roanoke won’t be the same without you.
    With love and in anticipation of your next blog,
    Claire (who still loves you 3 points!)
    P.S. I loved the photo of Walden Pond at sunset!

    Reply
  2. Evelyn

     /  August 24, 2009

    Wish I had been there, Beth! So important to celebrate and to recognize. Love you.

    Reply
  3. frances

     /  September 11, 2009

    Just read this again and my eyes still tear up.
    xo

    Reply

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